Forum Examples - Answers to Job Search Questions

Here are 3 Member Questions and our Responses from our Forum. I’ve removed the names of the people and companies involved to protect confidentiality of the members in our Forum. Full Members of our site get Access to our Forum.

Example 1 – Senior Director

Hi Paul and thank you for your continued assistance.

Two opportunities opened up overnight and I want to ensure I make the most out of that one shot at getting it correct.

First, I had a recruiter screening call for a Director of Professional Services gig with [a company on the East coast], last night the CIO started following me on Twitter. I want to leverage that to both connect with him on LinkedIn and send a direct message back on Twitter, to gain advantage and have a direct conversation with a decision maker. What should be the approach in contacting him?

Secondly, the president of [another company], former president of [another well-known company] followed my Twitter account as well, this one is more mining and networking oriented, not directly attached to an open opportunity. What do you suggest I include in a note to him?

I tend to be verbose and want to make sure I have an elevator type approach, keeping it succinct and encouraging a conversation.

Thanks much for everything.

My response:

First, that's great that you are paying attention to who is following you. It's possible to see who is looking at your profile in LinkedIn as well, which I'm sure you're doing, but wanted to say it out loud for anyone else reading this who might not have known that.

To the CIO of [the company on the East coast], of course thank him for the follow, but then mention a recruiter reached out to you about the position and now that you’ve looked into the company and position in more detail, it sounds like the type position you’re hoping to find. The reason I recommend mentioning the recruiter who “reached out to you” is because that gives the impression that you are not in an aggressive search mode, and they wouldn’t have found you if it weren’t for that recruiter.

This comes from basic supply/demand economics theory. If there isn’t a vast supply of your resume out there and it was hard to get you, then your value increases and they feel fortunate to be talking with you. Whereas if your resume is all over town and everyone/anyone could get to you, your value decreases. So mention the recruiter, then show your heightened interest now that you’ve done your homework and that you're excited that he decided to follow you.

Similar concept with [the other company], minus the recruiter. The excitement about his follow was because you know a great deal about [them], and followed his career from [the previous company] and felt it would be a great place to work. Then coincidentally he started following you. So you thought this was great opportunity to introduce yourself and find out how you might start the process to be considered to join the company.

I hope that helps! Thanks for posting the question in our forum!

Paul


Example 2 – Systems Analyst

This is one post from a thread someone started in our Forum. He had an interview that he thought had gone well, but was rejected and needed advice on how to improve for the next time. Here’s what he wrote:

Well, they passed on interviewing me for the next round. I decided to take the recruiter's advice and not send a thank you email to the person who interviewed me on the phone. I did however send one to the interviewer and manager I would have worked under, thanking them for the opportunity to interview with them, asked them to keep me in mind if anything changed. I also sent them a link to a resource that I thought they might find useful.

Here was their response:

"monotone, overly-detailed communication style so I have concerns about his interactions with [company name] stakeholders and other clients strong on SQL and Access; I think he could satisfy the position needs from a technical standpoint. His project management skills/abilities were less clear. His communication style makes me wonder how good he is at keeping things on track. he's looking to grow/develop his skills and opportunities in programming and desires to learn more languages and programs. I have some concerns that he might not feel satisfied for the long-term with what we have to offer. Bottom line: I don't recommend going forward with interviewing him in person."

I don't understand how they could have thought I sounded monotone because I was walking around when talking to them and trying to smile. I can get too detailed when I try to describe things and do have some issues now and then keeping on track with things.

Regardless, I feel that I did much better than I would have if I did not utilize the tools that Paul has provided. Even though I was turned down, I am motivated to work harder in my job search.

My response:

I'm sorry to hear how the interview went, but that’s great that they gave you so much detailed feedback, even though it’s not what you want to hear, now you know what to fix for next time.

The “monotone, overly-detailed communication style” is a signal that you were talking too much during the interview and it was probably factual based information, which isn't always the most interesting and can be heard as "monotone".

To fix your communication style during interviews, you need to bring in stories whenever you can. Instead of just saying, "I have experience managing Exchange upgrades..." followed by factual details, tell it like a story. “When I was with XYZ, there were about 10 people on my team, and that was a really great team because we had these two architect level guys who really knew their stuff and kept the project moving (complimenting other people makes a statement about you as much as it does those other people, gives them a character reference about you), and when we got the statement work from…” Tell it like a story, keep it brief, but interesting.

So write down what you can remember about each project, what specifically was interesting about that project or the people or the time of year, anything, then create the anecdotal story that you can give the employer.

When they said your PM skills were less clear, that’s an easy fix, that just means your commentary throughout the interview should include references to the size of the teams you led, any methodologies you implemented, and reference them with a statement such as, “I had them working on an Agile…”, the “I had them” part says, "I was clearly the leader."

Lastly, whenever you talk about how much you WANT to learn, or that you need challenges, to the employer, that feels like you’re setting expectations on them. Whereas if you just talk about how much you “enjoy learning, and whether it’s a challenging project or something I’ve done 100 times, there are always opportunities to learn something.” That says that you never get bored (eliminating a concern of leaving early), and that YOU will look for ways to learn, and they would benefit from getting someone who is always trying to better himself.

Since I've spoken to you personally, I feel confident that's what you were trying to say in the first place by telling them you want to learn, you just need to phrase it in a way that they don’t feel like you’re setting expectations.

I hope this was helpful. Thanks for posting it in here! Please post any other questions you have as you go...and that goes for anyone else reading this. The more you ask, the more I can help.


Example 3 – Technology Director

This person posted their resume, I gave them immediate feedback on how they can improve it to get through the ATS systems and to get better responses from hiring managers. Here was this executive’s response:

Hi Paul and thank you for both the rapid response and extremely helpful tips. I can't count how many resume reviews I have endured and you're the first person to mention something as critical as the relationship between the font and the various ATS systems. As I aforementioned, I spent a couple months with Lee Hecht Harrison which was helpful, but certainly not as detailed as you have been in a much shorter timeline. Thank you again.


If you join our program, go into the forum and you’ll see the threads where I extracted these exact posts word for word and the detailed advice I gave them, along with many more. As a member, you can ask your own questions about situations and get them answered, just like these job seekers did. I hope to work with you soon.

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